Americans tell an average of two lies each day, but different people lie at different rates. Twenty percent of the people tell 80% of the lies.
Either way, there’s a good chance someone will lie to you as you go about your day, so it’s wise to know how to spot and handle liars. Generally, you might encounter two types of liars at work—frequent liars and infrequent liars—says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London.
Frequent liars don’t feel like they’re doing anything wrong when they say something untrue. They are often creative and intelligent and don’t have difficulty keeping their stories straight.
Instead of trying to figure out if frequent liars are telling the truth, figure out what they’re likely to do. For example, lies about how they feel, “I like working here,” are less important than lies about their actions, “I’ll make that deadline this week.”
Dealing with these kinds of liars is like dealing with people who are chronically late; you must identify the pattern and find ways to adapt to it.
Infrequent liars, on the other hand, lie because they feel insecure or afraid. They may lie to improve their status or make themselves look better, such as by claiming knowledge they don’t possess. These insecure liars need to feel accepted and reassured.
— Adapted from “How and Why We Lie at Work,” Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review.